Monday, March 27, 2006

The sky above Austin in a brook below

As usual, click to expand.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

The kind of thing to be found in my head at 5 A.M.

Gouts of water clatter down the gutter
Like trout sprouting will-wings to fling themselves up their river
I can't compel my body down into sleep

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Prokofiev's Sixth Sonata and Black Sabbath

We went to a Murray Perahia concert last night. He had stopped performing for a while in the early nineties due to a hand problem. It turns out he has stopped again, and instead we heard Anne-Marie McDermott, who's not one of the great pianists of the world but oh well. She played some Bach competently if not that engagingly, and then Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6 quite well.

From the program notes by Keith Horner:
The biting harmonies of the sonata's opening movement are built around the clash between A major and A minor. The tonalites first collide in the opening measures of the piece, over a disorienting left-hand tritone. (A tritone is the mosst unsettling and tonally distant of musical intervals. Known as the devil's interval--diabolus in musica--it has provided fuel and color for composers for centuries, including Lizst, Black Sabbath in its self-titled signature song, Bloodrock in "DOA", and for many other heavy metal bands. Tritones appear throughout the Sixth Sonata from the first page to the last.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Not going into my canon

We just spent a few days in Austin, where Mrs. R was giving a talk. For the first time in a long while I spent a day the way I used to during my write-a-book sabbatical year: walking around looking at stuff and then writing a poem about it all. The following refers to a tree that Mrs. R associates with the city:


Zexmenia, and its grape jelly smell,
Call to the Tourette's in every poet:
Concord, radius, ulna, elbow, six
Degrees of anything and opposite,
The map of all minds' metrics a hopeless
Scribble, a knot of labyrinth threads.
The tree's purple blossoms rhyme, sort of,
The lavenderly iridescent slipcovers
On the chairs in the rough-hewn coffee house
Near the capital and its Confederate
War Memorial where you've stopped for a rest
On your first-time visit to the city
To see if you'd want to move here, a place
You'll probably soon leave, never to return.

We picked up the Latin name from a label in a garden exhibit of local and ecofriendly plants. The poem (or rather draft) certainly seems difficult, and it's unapologetically sonnet-like in its 6-8 construction, but it perhaps expresses something about how we live in our heads and our lives. Sadly, when I looked on the web for images of the described blossoms (and to think about "lilac" for "purple" and so forth), I discovered that Zexmenia is an orange-flowered shrub and the plant in question is actually the Texas mountain laurel, euphoniously linnaeusized as Sophora secundiflora.

Sometimes one starts a poem and it ends somewhere and one realizes it didn't arrive anywhere worth going. Sometimes a tweak in direction along the way will redeem the effort. Rather seldom have I written something to find that the first word is just wrong and the whole enterprise hopelessly muddled thereby. (Well, there's some of that here.)

Anyway, that's why the above draft is posted, not sitting in a drawer awaiting a rewrite and, hopefully, eventual submission somewhere.